Smartphone giant Huawei has launched its take on the popular Raspberry Pi developer board.
The company usually prices its high-end smartphones aggressively to compete with more established rivals like Samsung and Apple, but that's not the strategy it's adopted for the new HiKey board for the Raspberry Pi-dominated single-board computer market.
As reported by ZDNet's sister site, Tech Republic, the Huawei-powered HiKey 960 developer board costs $239, or nearly seven times the $35 Raspberry Pi.
Compared with the Raspberry Pi, the HiKey 960 also offers developers a completely different proposition that's more pronounced than that of other higher-performance alternatives, such as the $60 Asus Tinker Board.
Unlike Asus' Tinker Board, the HiKey 960 isn't a Huawei-branded or made product. However, the board takes its name from Huawei's Kirin 960 octa-core system on chip, which also powers Huawei's flagship Mate 9 smartphone.
The HiKey 960's SoC includes the Kirin 960 octa-core CPU with four Cortex-A73 cores to 2.4GHz, 4x Cortex-A53 cores to 1.8GHz and Mali-G71 MP8 GPU. Huawei also highlights developer access to a PCIe M.2 card interface for high-performance additional storage or wireless cards.
Observing that comparisons between the HiKey 960 and the Raspberry Pi may not be justified, TechRepublic notes, "The HiKey has double the number of CPU cores and about twice the peak clock speed of the Pi, as well as triple the Pi's 1GB memory. While the HiKey's Mali-G71 GPU can output 4K graphics, the board has a HDMI 1.2a port, which can output a maximum of 1,080p."
Unlike the Pi, the HiKey is also chiefly aimed at Android developers who are looking for a PC-style board. It's the second official HiKey-branded Android reference board, following the HiKey620.
Huawei's contribution comes by way of its membership of Linaro, the Linux engineering group founded in 2010 by ARM, IBM and semiconductor companies Samsung, ST-Ericsson, Freescale and Texas Instruments. Google joined the group in March.
Linaro expects mobile developers to integrate the boards with sensors, security and other hardware, as well as those building for digital signage, point-of-sale systems, robotics and other fields beyond smartphones.
"The HiKey 960 delivers on the goal of 96Boards to provide access to the latest ARM technology to the developer community, with support for the latest Huawei mobile SoC featuring high performance ARM Cortex-A73 cores coupled with the latest generation of ARM Mali GPU technology," said George Grey, Linaro CEO.
Linaro notes the board currently supports Android Open Source Project with the AOSP 4.4 kernel.
The HiKey 960 measures 85mm x 55mm or 3.35 inches x 2.71 inches.